Damian Green: Tory crocodile tears


9:46 am - November 29th 2008

by Sunny Hundal    


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Snippets of commentary from blogs on the Damian Green arrest.

Jim Bliss:

But the last people that should be replacing them are a bunch of dangerous fools who are willing to cry “Stalin” when one of their own gets questioned for a few hours and then released, but who stay silent at — and indeed support — the systematic harrassment of others. I don’t recall the Tory outcry when police kicked down a door in Forest Gate and shot an unarmed suspect. I don’t recall the tories accusing the police of ‘Stalinesque’ tactics that day. In fact, just to demonstrate how divorced these fools are from reality, how utterly self-serving in their outlook, a Tory spokesman has described Green’s arrest as “unprecedented in its heavy-handedness”.

Unprecedented? Really? What complete tossers those tories truly are.


Dave Osler:

Yet just in case the Tories maintain their persistent pretence of perennial occupation of the moral high ground, it’s worth mentioning a couple of cases from Britain’s last spell under Conservative rule. Let’s not forget Foreign and Commonwealth Office clerical officer Sarah Tisdall, jailed in 1983 after anonymously sending photocopied documents detailing plans for the arrival of US cruise missiles in the UK to The Guardian.

Let’s not forget either Clive Ponting – a senior civil servant at the Ministry of Defence – who in 1984 sent two documents concerning the sinking of Argentinian warship General Belgrano in the Falklands War to a Labour MP. It transpired that the vessel had been sighted a day earlier than officially reported, was steaming away from the Royal Navy taskforce, and was outside the exclusion zone when it was attacked and sunk. That a jury subsequently acquitted Ponting on two charges under the Official Secrets Act is not the point; the fact is, a Conservative government made damn sure the case came to court.

Septicisle:

As others have pointed out, despite the involvement of anti-terror officers, this as yet does not have anything to do with actual anti-terrorism laws, but what those anti-terrorism laws, such as Section 44 have done is imbue the police with the confidence they need to be able to act almost with impunity. Even whilst we complain that they often can’t seem to be bothered to keep actual small town stations open than more than a few hours at a time, or to attend burglaries, they find the time to monitor political demonstrations while recording footage of all those taking part, just for “their records”.

It therefore takes some chutzpah for David Davis, whose stance I have deeply admired, to say he now believes we are living in a police state because one of his own has been raided. When other individuals have said similar things, such as one of the men wrongly arrested in connection with the Birmingham beheading plot, who said that this country was now a police state for Muslims, they have been shot down, especially by politicians. Politicians themselves after all have no one other than themselves to blame for the power the police now have and routinely wield. Only the Liberal Democrats have anything approaching a decent record on opposing the almost yearly measures brought in in reaction to tabloid demands.

Stuart White (Next Left):

The contradiction is as follows: on the one hand we say, with a nod and a wink, that it is fair game for MPs to use leaked information as part of the process of Parliament holding the executive to account. It is because most of us think this that we see the police action against Green, even if he has been receiving leaked information, as not merely heavy-handed but as undemocratic. On the other hand, in saying this we are also saying, with that nod and a wink, that it is a normal part of the political process that opposition and criticism of the executive will rely on leaks – in other words, on some people, such as civil servants, doing what they shouldn’t be doing. So we end up saying, in effect: ‘Its fair play to break the rules!’

Unity:

However, its it final piece of leaked information cited by the BBC that could, were it be linked to Green, give him a serious problem – a list, compiled by Labour’s Whip’s Office of potential Labour rebels on the 42 days pre-charge detention vote. That is a (party) political matter that, while it may of interest to the public (and the oppostition, of course) is not a matter of legitimate public interest, not least at relates to the voting intentions of members of the legislature and not to a matter of government – although one hestiates to use the ‘W’ word (Watergate), the leaking of party political information to opposition members falls outside the legitimate scope of the public interest and amounts to political espionage.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Civil liberties ,Conservative Party ,Our democracy ,Westminster

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Reader comments


Well I guess you’ll be talking about Labour crocodile tears in a few years time?

Pathetic.

So Tony Benn and Jeremy Corbyn are shedding crocodile tears too, are they?

And Norman Baker, Chris Huhne and Nick Clegg?

All Tory crocodile tears?

Right.

Sorry, just also noticed this (slightly ironic?):

“David Blunkett, the former home secretary, yesterday led a cross-party attack on the police for what he described as “overkill” in arresting the shadow home office minister, Damian Green, after he published Home Office documents allegedly leaked by a civil servant.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/nov/29/whitehall-damian-green-blunkett

Pfft David Cuntkett is a fucking fascist, he’s in no position to start crying over the civil liberties implications of any of this…

Yes…as I said slightly ironic in his case!!

What exactly is the point of this post except to make it a partisan issue for this site?

7. councilhousetory

Call yourselves liberals. The common law offence used in this instance has no statute of limitations, so every politician and journalist in the country is now under the threat of arrest. This is the tools of tyranny.

Councilhouse,

The Police and Criminal Evidence Act was brought in by a *Conservative* government in 1984…yes this post is partisan but it is not as if the Tories are being sainted angels and making completly non-partisan points now is it?? Funnily enough I have yet to see Mr Cameron mention the above fact in his diatribes….

Labour are being hypocritical because they connive in the said culture of leaks and espionage when they are in power and criticise it when they are not but please don’t try and pretend the Conservatives don’t do the same thing….

Tony Benn and Jeremy Corbyn are shedding crocodile tears too

They’re not crocodile tears if they’re shed by MPs who have consistently voted in line with the views they’re now expressing.

Well they’re not crocodile tears if they’re sincerely felt – which in the Tory cases I’m sure they are wrt Damien Green.

So no-one is actually shedding crocodile tears – except perhaps Blunkett?!

Call yourselves liberals. The common law offence used in this instance has no statute of limitations, so every politician and journalist in the country is now under the threat of arrest. This is the tools of tyranny.

And you call yourself intelligent? the whole point of the various commentaries isn’t that we like what’s going on – but that we’re here because the same idiot Tories who screamed for more police powers when it was brown people getting their doors kicked down are now suddenly surprised the police are acting like this.

Sunny,

Surely it is not a point that Labour with it’s raft of anti-terror powers given to the police have connived in this climate? I agree that it is wrong for Tories act the innocent over this but I think there is probably plenty of blame to go around with this one….

Blimey – and there was I thinking that it has been Labour in power for the last 11 years, with the Tories *opposing* 90 days and ID cards…

cjcj,

You cant get round the facts and the facts are that the relevant pieces of legislation (PCE and Official Secrets) are both creations of Conservative government – now you can criticise Labour for not doing anything about it and be well within your rights (they actually revised the PCE) and you can criticise them for creating a legislative enviroment where the police are a law unto themselves with rafts of unnecessary anti-terror legislation but what you cannot do consistently is exonarate the Conservatives totally from blame when it comes to this specific case since they crafted the legislation which has been used against Green. And, of course, not a peep of this from Cameron…unsurprisingly…

“yes this post is partisan but it is not as if the Tories are being sainted angels and making completly non-partisan points now is it??”

Why is it that the stock line in arguments, be it against Tory moronism, or BNP fascism, is “well if they can do it, so can we?” I’m absolutely bemused that we have such a childish “I know you are so what am I” line of argument in these discussions.

“Oh the Tories aren’t exactly any better are they”

“The Tories did this in the past”

“Well the BNP wouldn’t treat us any differently”

It’s, in all honesty, a bit pathetic to argue this way.

Lee,

errr it’s called politics…when one party is making a song and dance at the expense of the facts then there is no problem with correcting that…and errr please note I didnt specifically endorse the post I just pointed out that as usual the faint whiff of hypocrisy is coming from the Tory posters on this site…

Sorry, I wasn’t actually specifically having a go with you, more venting some frustration at general comments that are cropping up more and more on this site from many parties that claim to be liberal. We seem to be adopting more and more of an eye for an eye debate style, and it undermines our credibility.

But this isn’t an OSA case, is it?

Do read this for brief background on the relevant common law offence and how the police also tried to use it in a disgraceful case (widely covered by Private Eye as I recall) which coincidentally has just collapsed:

http://timesonline.typepad.com/politics/2008/11/damian-green–.html

Cjcj,

It will be for Green’s source…hence the involvement of special branch…

But that is not the offence on suspicion of which Green was arrested, was it?

The “source” hasn’t been arrested, has s/he?

Read the article anyway.

Cjcj,

Ive read it and I agree with you; it is shocking. Putting aside partisan colours for a second can we not agree that this is a deeper issue than is being suggested by the rhetoric on any side??

It gets better

Announced Today by the BBC

Alan Milburn to set up “Civilian Security Force” using military trainers, civil servants, police officers, judges and other logistical staff.

Beware, The State is now arming itself against it’s own citizens

LINK

23. douglas clark

It seems obvious to me that we elect MPs, presumeably on the basis that we think they will do the best that they can for us. We do not, given the vagaries of our system, actually get to elect a Prime Minister or anyone else in his or her cabinet. We could, for instance, vote for a David Cameron run Tory Party, and if they felt like it, they could replace him with someone else. Immediately after we’d elected him.

To be honest, it seems to me that partisan arguements do none of us any favours. If we stand back from the labels of party politics, it appears that there is something more fundamental going on. Specifically the right of Parlimentarians to call out any government over it’s actions. It would seem to me to be obvious that individual MPs – we voted for them after all – ought to have whatever protection is necessary in order to do their jobs. Including protection from state apparatus. These are the folk that we elect to pursue our interests. They should be allowed to do it without let or hinderance.

I am equally unhappy that so called whistleblowers are seen as such. It is healthy for governments to have their secrets exposed. The default position ought to be that there ar no secrets, and the bar for declaring something a secret ought to be set pretty high.

Clearly a move towards people power is a step too far for some.

This country has been under a sustained attack by Islamic terrorists for some years now . Naturally this increases the need for security and mistakes will be made . It was fairly remarkable thing however that following the 7.7. cold butchery of innocent Britain’s by imported scum the BBC gave more prominence to the unfortunate killing by the police of an innocent they believe to be a threat,. That is the blind hatred of this country the Liberal feels .Muslim murderers maim and kill for some nutty reason they dream up having eaten fermented marmalade and when some innocent bystander gets caught up in the cross fire you blame wait for it …The Tories ..The Tories ? You fucking child .
A similar fanatical urge to betray us to any enemy we have lies behind the bizarre nit picking about the Belgrano whose Captain happily admitted he was there to attack out forces .Its like Thierry Henry (used to be ) , you lurk on the offside line duck in an out and you may get blown up. During that war the forces of “progressive “ thought , as usual, poured their scorn on our heroic troops and have spent years bitching about a an issue pretty trivial set against the invasion of our sovereign territory. They have only just forgiven Bomber Command for winning the Second World War for us ! As to civil servants passing defence information around ,well, the left has a long history of traitor moles and much as I despise these people I do not see the relevance here .

It was only the access Winston Churchill had to leaked information that allowed him to consistently oppose the appeasers who hid the truth about German Aggression from this country .Whistle blowers are part of the system and (something that Liberals will never understand ).Systems work because of those who disobey the rules as well as those who do not this is a particularly obvious example .It is a shame the \Police have been reduced to a politicised collection of over paid layabouts who little expect sue each other without money and show boat for the cameras . They have long since been allies of New Labour and no actual encouragement would be need for this political act. This is what entrtrenched bureaucracies do .Write poisonous memos and engage in Byzantine squabbles over territory and parasitise the honest and the good.

Beware, The State is now arming itself against it’s own citizens

Not that agree with this idea, but your assertion is a bit daft.

The State already has, and has always had, the police and the army to crack heads if it chose. I seem to remember riot police were a favourite of Lady Thatch’.

26. douglas clark

Hopefully, Aaron you do agree with me? It is really not useful to confirm the status quo. We all know what it is, indeed some of us appear to revel in it. Despite it being arguably against our best interests.

Sorry,

In 1997, we had the Police.

In 2008, we have the Police, Community Support Wardens, Police Community Support Officers, political officers in Schools making sure that 5 year olds are “monitored” for future bad behaviour, volunteers manning CCTV, and now, we are to have “Civilian Security Forces”

28. Stephen Rouse

Not sure what the hell’s going on although I suspect some Labour figures may not have been behaved terribly well. However the right’s sense of proportion, never the strongest of instincts, seems completely dislodged this time…
Todays’ Daily Mail on Police State Britain and the death of our democracy, pages 1,2,4,5,6,7,8, a particularly splenetic Littlejohn piece on 9 and a leader on 16.
Meanwhile, half a column on page 57 about a potentially deadly rise in measles cases because of “unfounded fears about the MMR jab”, although, strangely, no mention of the newspaper at the forefront of spreading those unfounded fears.
I wonder which will do the most long-term damage, Mr Green’s temporary discomfort or the whipped-up hysteria about MMR?

Genius logic in some of the posts you summarise

Jim Bliss: a Tory spokesman has described Green’s arrest as “unprecedented in its heavy-handedness”
Well it is if you you compare like for like – i.e. other political arrests. If you compare it with a possible terrorist then not – whatever the rights and wrongs of identifying terrorists.

Dave Osler: The acts of a government 25 years ago can hardly be looked at in the same light today. The past is a different country.

Stuart White clearly does not understand the Ponting Case which through legal precedent outlines how leaks are acceptable. Would he be so concerned if information about a commercial concern were leaked relating to human rights etc.

Unity fails to appreciate that whilst you may dub something political espionage, this would hardly be covered under the official secrets act.

So 4 pieces of partisan nonsense.

Septicisle is the only one who seems to have a rational critique, and argues his her point well..

So the motivation for this anti tory nonsense. Is it concern for democracy? No. The position of parliament? No. The freedom of the press? No

Sunny reveals all in his comments – we’re here because the same idiot Tories who screamed for more police powers when it was brown people getting their doors kicked down are now suddenly surprised the police are acting like this.

Some form of inverse racism – it’s bad when brown people get their doors kicked down (whatever the crime) but when a tory mp has it happen then its ok because they are idiots.

I am very suprised that you can’t even come out in support – i always use a different view- how would you feel if the same had happened to a “liberal left” mp. I can say one thing – there would be a hell of a lot more than 2 posts.

Iain Dale seems to be misrepresenting this post somewhat and elsewhere the LP’s Favourite Tory Blogger (LPFTB) has cult followers grinding and gnashing teeth.

They tended to think it was hilarious when Ruth Turner was dawn-arrested in front of press by terrorist police. Now they’re not so sure.

Iain also distinguished himself about 4 hours ago by complaining of coverage on Sky of Taj Mahal Hotel situation. He presumably regrets that a man who was arrested over some fecking around with secrets thing – which I can’t say I really understand the heavy handedness of (though see above) – and is now on bail for three months has dropped below the fold on the inkies, the MSM web, and even Sky TV. Meanwhile the 200 or so dead in Mumbai are getting more than their fair share of coverage.

You have to admire his sense of priorities.

9/11, Chechen siege, 7/7, Madrid, Tsunami, Chinese Earthquake are among other trifling world events that got in the way of Iain’s news valuations.

ChrisP: My point is a simple one, and I think is made rather clearly in my post. The treatment of Mr. Green was harrassment, pure and simple and should be considered troubling by any right-thinking person.

However, the reaction of the tory party and some of the statements made by them (‘Stalinesque’ and ‘unprecedented in their heavy-handedness’) are utterly absurd. I have no time at all for the Labour Party and consider them beyond contempt, but a glance at Damian Green’s voting record as well as a basic familiarity with tory policy provides a clear indication that these are people who don’t appear to have a big problem with police harrassment until it happens to one of their own.

See, the basic point is a simple one: If you start — as the tories have done here — name-checking Stalin, ferchristsakes, then you really need to have something worse than a few hours questioning and an over-the-top search to complain about. Otherwise you look just as ridiculous as people who name-check Hitler every time a politician says something they disagree with.

I mean, listen to yourself: “Well it is if you you compare like for like – i.e. other political arrests.” Why don’t you narrow the context even further: “Well it is if you you compare like for like – i.e. arrests of MPs called Damian Green in 2008”?

Police harrassment doesn’t feel any better or worse to the person being harrassed merely because you claim it’s “political”, and that’s what is at issue here. Green’s treatment by the police was *not* unprecedented in its heavy-handedness. To claim it was, via a deliberate narrowing of the context, is at best absurd… at worst it’s deliberate deception; self-serving political point-scoring of exactly the kind that makes politicians of all colours so pathetic and contemptible.

Neither Clive Ponting or Sarah Tisdall were MPs were they? They leaked to un-arrested MPs. That doesn’t compare like with like. Which Labour MPs were arrested by ‘Thatch’ for receiving leaks? Go on…. I am waiting… oh…none.

Which MP ever has been arrested for this ever? Go on… I am waiting… oh ..none.

Its an absolutely unprecedented abuse of power and of Parliament – that’s clear. MPs need to be securing their private information behind encryption and in safe rooms in case of Police raids. That’s also now clear I think.

Jim Bliss: Stalinesque – yes, but this is standard hyperbole characteristic of British newspapers – cf Siberian weather when a flake of snow falls.

35. douglas clark

But you are all arguing against a Parliamentary process. For the last time, we elect MPs and they are our bulwark against a restrictive state. It is not in any sense of the word reasonable, to allow the state to subvert Parliament.

Which has been estranged into a party political point. When it is nothing of the sort.

I am frankly disgusted at the attempts of the likes of Unity and, sadly, Sunny Hundal to spin this. We, Liberal Conspirators, ought to be a bit beyond that. The principle of democracy is a tad more important than the details of this bun fight. So, lets discuss it from another point of view.

It is a wrong, as far as I am concerned, for the Police to involve themselves in the Parliamentary process.

Would either Unity or Sunny explain why the police should be an asset in winning a point of view? On behalf of the government.

It is the complete failure of the managerialists, specifically Unity, to actually stand up for democracy that drives me mad. Managerialism is what you do, Unity, and it is not enough.

This is a low spot for a Liberal Conspiracy.

36. douglas clark

Would either Unity or Sunny explain why the police should be an asset in winning a point of view? On behalf of the government.

To be more exact. Why are they supporting them? The Police have apparently taken on a different, and unacceptable role, from the one they used to have. Is the idea that they support the government, without independence, what we actually want?

No, it isn’t.

37. councilhousetory

And you call yourself intelligent?

No, but thanks for asking Sunny. Do call myself liberal though.

38. douglas clark

This is only understandable if Sunny has been promised a Labour seat. Otherwise it stands against everything that he has ever said. It is not up to us to forgive politicians for being wrong, for being vindictive, or for completely failing to understand why we have a Parliament.

The point, I thought, of this site was to stand independent of political parties. To stand for stuff like justice. Frankly, this place has become more partisan than I ever thought it would.

I am angered that that seems to be denied here.

I accept that Damian Green is no democrat. But he was elected.

Deal with that, and the consequnces. Which include legitimate leaks!

39. douglas clark

Alex Wilcocks:

Some days, you’re spoilt for choice on where to put the boot in. When Labour lickspittle Ian Blair sobs about Boris Johnson, who do you hate more? When a senior Tory (well, Damian Green, anyway) is arrested under Tory laws, do you laugh, or condemn a police state? Well, there’s an easy way for Liberals to work out the rights and wrongs here. It’s the centuries-old founding Liberal principle of the Rule of Law. Police should enforce the law, not the Government’s whim; and we should defend the rights of evil shits just as assiduously as we do ‘nice people’. Because equality before the law doesn’t allow you to exempt or pick on people you don’t like.

Whim, very good point that. Seems to have escaped our main Liberal Conspirators….

40. douglas clark

Course, the silence of both Sunny or Unity speaks bells. I’d like either of them to actually engage with this thread. For Sunny certainly started it, and Unity was the main motivator behind it. They are both being silent, largely because they were both being a bit daft. Which is quite surprising, for neither of them are usually this stupid.

You could both apologise, I suppose?

41. douglas clark

Well,

The silence from Mr managerialist, Mr Unity, is quite annoying. Mr manager, Mr Unity, appears to see managerialiasism as the way forward for British politics. I’d reject that, utterly. Mr manager plays a game here. He says, elsewhere:

Even for an MP, ‘just doing my job’ is no more a valid defence than ‘I was only following orders’ unless the actions undertaken are in the legitimate pursuit of the public interest – any claim to parliamentary privilege must be consistent with the rule of law and not deployed mere as a means of circumventing it for nothing more than short-lived political advantage.

I do hope that Green is on the level here and has been circumspect in his dealings with this particular ‘whistleblower’ but if he hasn’t then the mere fact that he an MP is not a defence in its own right.

I happen to think that is wrong. Can you figure out why?

:

42. douglas clark

Silence from both Sunny and Unity. Suggests that they were both wrong, doesn’t it?

43. douglas clark

The point being:

It seems obvious to me that we elect MPs, presumeably on the basis that we think they will do the best that they can for us. We do not, given the vagaries of our system, actually get to elect a Prime Minister or anyone else in his or her cabinet. We could, for instance, vote for a David Cameron run Tory Party, and if they felt like it, they could replace him with someone else. Immediately after we’d elected him.

To be honest, it seems to me that partisan arguements do none of us any favours. If we stand back from the labels of party politics, it appears that there is something more fundamental going on. Specifically the right of Parlimentarians to call out any government over it’s actions. It would seem to me to be obvious that individual MPs – we voted for them after all – ought to have whatever protection is necessary in order to do their jobs. Including protection from state apparatus. These are the folk that we elect to pursue our interests. They should be allowed to do it without let or hinderance.

I am equally unhappy that so called whistleblowers are seen as such. It is healthy for governments to have their secrets exposed. The default position ought to be that there ar no secrets, and the bar for declaring something a secret ought to be set pretty high.

Which neither of you have accepted.

44. David Boothroyd

There is a difference between:

1) A ‘whistleblower’, a person who goes outside an organization to raise its failings externally after having raised them internally and being systematically ignored;

2) A person who had no interest in actually solving the problem but instead looked for whatever documents embarrassed the organization and then disclosed them to do it maximum embarrassment.

At the moment we have no evidence that the civil servant involved (who stood as a Conservative Party candidate in local elections in 2004, and applied for a job with Damian Green) had raised the issues internally.

Douglas – I think you’re getting confused. No one has actually denied this is a wrong state of affairs or that the police has grossly over-reached itself.

But I’m neither going to compare Brown to Mugabe and neither am I willing to listen to lessons on civil liberties from authoritarian Tories who have previously only clamoured for more police powers.

46. douglas clark

Sunny,

I’m not confused. This is not a party political point as far as I’m concerned. It is about how we conduct our democracy. If Tony Benn thinks it’s wrong then it probably is.

I agree with what he has to say here:

“It is a total breach of what accords the privileges of parliament and therefore, the electors. His computers have been searched, his e-mail has been frozen.”

He said that it was tantamount to a Contempt of Parliament. “Once police can interfere in parliament, then we’re into a police state.”

47. douglas clark

Green was doing his job, holding the government to account. If MPs can’t have privileged, private communications with their constituents and with civil servants concerned about the activities of the particular party in government, there will be no scrutiny possible of the executive. As far as I am concerned, Smith and Brown (I do not accept their denials of culpability) have just stolen one of our rights to provide confidential information to an MP and not have it carted away by the police.

The police not just taken papers relating to the alleged leaks – but all his computers and other papers to read. So people who have complained about the police, a government department or even just their neighbours in some other entirely unrelated matters, as people frequently do to their MPs, will now have the papers relating to that read by “anti-terrorist” coppers who have no right to know about those matters.

Green has broken no laws as far as I can tell. In fact he has done what Parliamentarians have always done – such famous leaders as Churchill relied on leaked information when in opposition to help them prepare for government and to expose the truth about the government of the day. Brown himself has admitted on camera that when in opposition he received and used such leaks when trying to hold the Major government to account.

If we accept this behaviour by the government I suppose we will also have to accept less well informed MPs. There is, a VAST amount of business which goes on, some formal, some informal, some under “Chatham House Rules” in which the government, civil service, NGOs and the Opposition discuss information which is deniable, potentially embarrassing and sometimes technically secret. Usually, most people involved know the game and respect each others’ positions and roles. Most of the infomration is incredibly unspectacular. I would expect that an MP would see masses more such stuff, as they are involved in these kinds of exercises continually over a range of topics.

What the drying up of that information will do for the quality of debates and legislation would be interesting to consider. I suspect there are a number of government ministers who would be only too happy if they don’t get asked difficult questions, as there would be civil servants who feed them the policies. On the other hand, civil servants who know when the government has lied or is ignoring the facts, might find they have no-where to go with that knowledge except the media, which might not be such a good thing for the government compared to them quietly going to an elected MP.

It is about how we conduct our democracy. If Tony Benn thinks it’s wrong then it probably is.

And it is.. all the blogs linked above say that.

50. douglas clark

Sunny,

I like you and all that stuff, but this is a seriously wrong take on the affair. You said at 49 this:

And it is.. all the blogs linked above say that.

. No they don’t, and you know it. So, sadly that has to be argued against.

James Bliss, in his key paragraph said this:

. I don’t recall the Tory outcry when police kicked down a door in Forest Gate and shot an unarmed suspect. I don’t recall the tories accusing the police of ‘Stalinesque’ tactics that day.

No, obviously not. Tories are incompetent arseholes. He would have had an even stronger case had he written about Brazillian electricians. Tories are firstly upper class twits, secondly complete idiots and thirdly represent a huge chunk of this nation. They are HMG’s official opposition. The fact that it ought to be a complete embarrassment for them to have stood up against a ridiculous increase in Police powers makes them idiots, right enough. But it does not make them common law criminals.

You either believe that despite the lack of a Tory outcry over Forest Gate, that still, MPs ought to have certain privileges. This particular individual, James Bliss, is clearly seeing this as a party political issue. What about the Lib Dems or the SNP? Why should they be tarred with this ridiculous brush? The right to leak ought to be endemic rather than restricted.

Onwards.

The very wonderful Dave Osler said:

Let’s not forget either Clive Ponting – a senior civil servant at the Ministry of Defence – who in 1984 sent two documents concerning the sinking of Argentinian warship General Belgrano in the Falklands War to a Labour MP. It transpired that the vessel had been sighted a day earlier than officially reported, was steaming away from the Royal Navy taskforce, and was outside the exclusion zone when it was attacked and sunk. That a jury subsequently acquitted Ponting on two charges under the Official Secrets Act is not the point; the fact is, a Conservative government made damn sure the case came to court.

So? Two wrongs don’t make a right, do they?

Septicisle surpasses his own standards with this:

It therefore takes some chutzpah for David Davis, whose stance I have deeply admired, to say he now believes we are living in a police state because one of his own has been raided. When other individuals have said similar things, such as one of the men wrongly arrested in connection with the Birmingham beheading plot, who said that this country was now a police state for Muslims, they have been shot down, especially by politicians. Politicians themselves after all have no one other than themselves to blame for the power the police now have and routinely wield. Only the Liberal Democrats have anything approaching a decent record on opposing the almost yearly measures brought in in reaction to tabloid demands.

Do you not appreciate how poignant this is:

Politicians themselves after all have no one other than themselves to blame for the power the police now have and routinely wield.

That is the state that we have set for ourselves.

Or finally: Unity who says this:

However, its it final piece of leaked information cited by the BBC that could, were it be linked to Green, give him a serious problem – a list, compiled by Labour’s Whip’s Office of potential Labour rebels on the 42 days pre-charge detention vote. That is a (party) political matter that, while it may of interest to the public (and the oppostition, of course) is not a matter of legitimate public interest, not least at relates to the voting intentions of members of the legislature and not to a matter of government – although one hestiates to use the ‘W’ word (Watergate), the leaking of party political information to opposition members falls outside the legitimate scope of the public interest and amounts to political espionage.

Which deserves a response on it’s own because of it’s fundamental core value of Labour Party secrecy.

Sunny, you are completely wrong to stand with people like that.

Douglas, firstly it’s “Jim”, not “James”. Hardly a major issue, but I thought I’d point it out.

Secondly, I’m not seeing this as a ‘party political issue’ as such. One can certainly read that into my blog post, but it’s missing the point a little. That said, it was a rather hastily-written piece and I’m the first to admit I probably didn’t make my point clearly enough.

My accusation of hypocrisy is aimed at the tory party in this instance, and I shan’t deny that. But my broader point is about the political class in general. Indeed, my post openly calls for Labour to be removed from power (not over this; just in general) while cautioning against viewing the tories as a sane replacement.

I find the tory claims that Green’s arrest was “Stalinesque” and “unprecedented in its heavy-handedness” to be insulting — both to those who have been subject to genuinely heavy-handed police tactics and to my intelligence. However, I don’t for a moment believe that the Labour party would have reacted any differently were the roles reversed. They may have name-checked Hitler, rather than Stalin, but beyond that there’d have been no real difference.

I can assure you that my contempt for mainstream politics transcends party lines.

52. douglas clark

Jim Bliss,

Apologies for the name take error. Probably down to my dad have being Jim all his life, whereas his given name was James.

Question.

Do you want your writing to subscribe to the obvious agenda here? Frankly, reading your stuff, I don’t think you are a partizan. It seems to me that you don’t have an agenda. If I can be excused for having one, it is that democracy is more important than political parties agendas. Which, seems to match neatly with what you said here:

I can assure you that my contempt for mainstream politics transcends party lines.

53. douglas clark

Jim,

To continue.

Just to let you know, this is a considered assault on what I happen to see as like minded people who have completely lost the plot. These are folk that I would genuinely consider voting for if they stood as MPs. So their idiocy over this issue is a bit of a disaster from my point of view.

Sunny Hundal quoted you, yes you, as a fellow traveller in the ‘Damien Green, Tory Crocodile Tears” headliner.

Perhaps you see it as just another dose of internicene warfare between two tribes of idiots, a view I would largely share. But the fundament of our democracy has been challenged here, and that does require us complacent fools to stand up. Even if it means supporting a daft Tory.

So, where do you stand? In favour of an opposition of some ability, or not? Recall, if you will that the Labour Party has been as much out of power as it has been in power, and that it has handed a future Tory administration laws that are indefensible. But apparently fair and reasonable.

Naw……

[troll]
Douglas, don’t waste your time. Its quite evident that some of the contributors on here are in league with the corrupt scum that is New Labour. They are incapable of debating the issues and prefer to smear the Tories.

But the fundament of our democracy has been challenged here, and that does require us complacent fools to stand up. Even if it means supporting a daft Tory.

Douglas – if you read the extended commentary by all of them on their respective blogs, which I’ve linked to, then they all point out this was the wrong thing to do. I’m not sure why you’re missing that point here. What further would you like? A demonstration in favor of Green?

The Tories only cry civil liberties when it affects them. Otherwise, people have to ‘follow the rule of law’. You had David Davis go out on a civil liberties limb, and a few weeks later Cameron announces that the Tories will give more power to the police! I’m sorry but you’re deluded if you think the Conservatives are going to protect civil liberties, let alone Labour. But they’re crying wolf now, after years of trashing those same liberties.

Comment 56 proves Sunny doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Douglas and Lee: good to see such comments.

Can anybody explain why there are still references to the Official Secrets Act in respect of this story. None of the information in any of the leaks could possibly have any bearing on national security, rendering references to Churchill, Trident and the Belgrano entirely irrelevant.

There are also one or two references to the idea that Green has somehow been caught in a legislative trap created by the Tories in the form of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, whereas, as far as I can make out, the crime of Misconduct in a Public Office is actually a creation of the Serious Organised Crime Act, dating from, er, 2005.

Moreover, as I have pointed out before, according to wikicrime, the tests for a prosecution for Misconduct in a Public Office are:

The elements of the offence of misconduct in a public office are:

* 1. A public officer acting as such (paragraph 54).

* 2. Wilfully neglects to perform his duty and/or wilfully misconducts himself (paragraphs 28, 30, 45 and 55).

* 3. To such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public’s trust in the office holder (paragraphs 46 and 56 to 59).

* 4. Without reasonable excuse or justification (paragraph 60).

The idea that leaking information about the Government’s inability to implement its own policies could fulfill points three and four here is utterly absurd. I said last week that, if the police didn’t have either a more contentious leak or a better fitting charge up their sleeves then they would be in serious trouble.

This morning I heard that Green’s arrest was for “grooming” the civil servant to provide the leaks. Now there is a word with no legal bearing on the case and some pretty serious negative connotations.

Always assuming that no minister has had anything to do with this, I think Jacqui Smith is right to refuse to apologise. As far as I can see, this is a police screw up. If they don’t get a prosecution – and I can’t see that they will, someone in the Counter Terror section is going to be for the high-jump.

58. Alisdair Cameron

Look, just because it’s a wanker who’ s been mistreated by the police, and just because he’s not had the beatings/fit-ups/whatever that others may have had, and because that aforesaid wanker might possibly not himself hold others’ civil liberties in the highest regard in a universalist manner DOESN’T actually mean that genuinely liberal thinkers ought to just say “Tough” . Green may be odious, he may be marvellous (my money’d be on the former, but I don’t know the man) but a central tenet of liberal thinking is that even the vile, rogues and scoundrels get civil rights.
Sunny, you might find it a bit rich that the Tories are seeking support for Green on civ lib grounds, indeed it may stick in the craw, but you cannot deny them your support on this and at the same time maintain a liberal outlook.

central tenet of liberal thinking is that even the vile, rogues and scoundrels get civil rights.

Quite, but you wouldn’t get that impression from the comments on LC articles relating to the BNP membership list.

[troll]
I see my posts are now edited out. Liberals my arse! Sunny, you and Liebour are made for each other.

Douglas, firstly let me point out that even though I was attacking Tory hypocrisy in this instance, I spend far more time on my blog criticisng Labour. They are currently the party of power and one of the running themes in my writing is the dangers of concentrated power. I don’t, it’s true, discuss the LibDems very much but that’s more to do with the fact that I find them largely irrelevant rather than any implication of support. Should they ever look like getting close to power, I can assure you that would change.

Having said that, if someone held a gun to my head and ordered me to vote either Labour or Tory, I would reluctantly place my ‘X’ in the Labour box. I’d feel very dirty afterwards, and my choice would not be as a result of endorsing Labour, but merely due to despising them very slightly less than I despise the tory party. I am a vocal opponent of free-market capitalism and I see the tories as being marginally more supportive of that destructive and unsustainable philosophy than Labour. But I do acknowledge that it is marginal these days.

(It’s also worth stating that although I was based in the UK for a decade and a half, I currently live in Ireland. I still take a great interest in UK politics, however. Think of me as the anti-Guido… both in terms of his views and the fact that people actually read what he writes)

You write: Sunny Hundal quoted you, yes you, as a fellow traveller in the ‘Damien Green, Tory Crocodile Tears’ headliner.

Well, I stand by what I said in my blog post. I probably failed to make my point as well as I might have done, but there’s nothing new about that. Nor do I have a problem with Sunny quoting me, so long as he doesn’t do so out of context (and a link to the original piece provides all the context anyone needs). I’m not nearly familiar enough with Mr. Hundal’s politics to say whether or not we are “fellow travellers” though I suspect we are not (merely because I’m so far outside the mainstream as to make it highly unlikely that any given person shares my views).

So when you ask: Do you want your writing to subscribe to the obvious agenda here?

I have to respond that neither quoting my writing nor linking to my blog should be taken as my subscription to anyone’s agenda. If you choose to take it that way, then that’s your business. But I’ve quoted many people who have views I do not share. It is perfectly possible to agree with someone about Subject A (and quote them on it) while disagreeing profoundly with them about Subjects B through Z.

Frankly, reading your stuff, I don’t think you are a partizan. It seems to me that you don’t have an agenda. If I can be excused for having one, it is that democracy is more important than political parties agendas.

I’m not partizan in the party-political sense. Though I most certainly do have an agenda. It’s not a hidden agenda though, and in the (extremely rare) cases when that agenda is shared by a politician then I will support that politician on that issue whatever party they may belong to.

For instance, when I lived in London I voted for Ken Livingstone as mayor. I did so on the single issue of the Congestion Charge which I strongly support (though it doesn’t go nearly far enough for my liking). I did not support Livingstone’s position on most other issues, but felt that the introduction of the CC was worth a vote.

If you wish to read a generalised support of Labour policy into that vote then I certainly can’t stop you. You’d be wrong though.

Perhaps you see it as just another dose of internicene warfare between two tribes of idiots, a view I would largely share. But the fundament of our democracy has been challenged here, and that does require us complacent fools to stand up. Even if it means supporting a daft Tory.

I’ve made it quite clear that Green’s treatment may well have been unjustified (perhaps some as yet undisclosed fact will emerge that justifies the police harrassment, but based on what we currently know, the police were indeed somewhat heavy-handed). I don’t for a moment dispute that. My post on this subject includes the lines:

Don’t get me wrong, clearly what’s happened here is a little heavy-handed and demonstrates the craven hypocrisy of the Brown administration. When it suits the Labour party they are more than willing to leak stuff to the media. In fact, they’ve got such a consistent track-record of leaking stuff that it hardly raises an eyebrow any more.

That surely speaks for itself.

However, my piece was aimed squarely at those who tried to paint Green’s treatment as “Stalinesque”. Such a description is insulting (as I’ve said before) and shows a complete lack of perspective within the Tory Party. As someone who has been involved in direct action protests I’ve seen just how heavy-handed the police can be. So even without referring to well-known instances that have made headlines, the notion that Green’s treatment was “unprecedented” is just bloody stupid in my view. And I chose to express that view.

I’m also less than sympathetic towards an MP having his office searched and being subjected to a few hours questioning, when that MP actively champions (what I see as) the unmerited police-harrassment and incarceration of others. That does not mean that I support what happened to Green, and will denounce it — as I have done. However, I won’t shed any tears about it, nor see it as the Great Crisis in Democracy that the tories are depicting it as.

Finally, you asked:
So, where do you stand? In favour of an opposition of some ability, or not? Recall, if you will that the Labour Party has been as much out of power as it has been in power, and that it has handed a future Tory administration laws that are indefensible. But apparently fair and reasonable.

Again, let me reiterate the fact that I am no supporter of Labour. Many of the laws introduced by them are indeed indefensible and should be strenuously opposed at every turn. That the tories would have introduced similar laws in the same circumstances, however, is something that I do not doubt for a moment. And they’ll be more than happy to employ and even extend Labour’s indefensible laws once they take office.

As for where I stand. Well as I say, I stand a long way from the mainstream. In the first instance, I am not a supporter of representative democracy. I believe that there is a fundamental crisis facing us in the near-term — that of sustainability of our civilisation — and I do not believe that democracy is capable of dealing effectively with that crisis.

That’s going to take us a long way off-topic though. Perhaps if the subject ever gets raised in a post here, we can lock horns about it then?

All the best.

but you cannot deny them your support on this and at the same time maintain a liberal outlook.

Alasdair: I’m not denying them that support. But how would you like me to offer support while simultaneously thinking they’re a bit hypocritical in their approach to civil liberties, and that the comparisons to Robert Mugabe are clearly absurd?

63. Alisdair Cameron

@ 63
Well, Sunny,that last post of yours does the trick: some of your previous posts were a little more opaque, but so long as you say and mean “I’m not denying them that support”, then yup, point out the daftness of some of the hysteria.
You sometimes have to accept that those you defend or back on the grounds of principle can be ungrateful, thankless shifty buggers who wouldn’t think of doing the same for you. You should still uphold your liberal principles.

Unprecedented? Really? What complete tossers those tories truly are.

I think ‘unprecedented’ related to an MP being arrested for being the recipient of leaks, rather than a number of police officers turning up unannounced at one’s house.

ukliberty: I think ‘unprecedented’ related to an MP being arrested for being the recipient of leaks, rather than a number of police officers turning up unannounced at one’s house.

That’s possible, ukliberty, however I still maintain that it’s a ridiculous choice of words. “This [arrest] is unprecedented in its heavy-handedness.” is frankly an absurd thing to say. It displays a complete lack of perspective as well as an insensitivity towards those who’ve been at the sharp end of genuine police harrassment that I find extremely distasteful. Quite aside from the fact that the tories have a track-record of supporting such harrassment when it’s happening to people they don’t like very much.

As for ‘Stalinesque’…? Let’s not even go there.

But how would you like me to offer support while simultaneously thinking they’re a bit hypocritical in their approach to civil liberties, and that the comparisons to Robert Mugabe are clearly absurd?

The comparisons to Mugabe are clearly hyperbole, but you are no stranger to this yourself, Sunny.

It is fair to say that the Conservatives have on occasion called for more police powers. I think it is also fair to point out that they tend to be quite specific and narrow powers, while Labour tends to opt for powers applicable to any number of contexts, under the guise of being against terrorists, paedophiles, or – horror of horrors – terrorist paedophiles, particularly if they involve some sort of intrusive and expensive database that won’t actually make us any safer.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there is a totalitarian streak in the Labour party, which is in fact regularly opposed by the Conservatives (and of course the LibDems).


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